Music Supervision and their Role. Is this the Holy Grail?

Is music supervision the holy grail or just selling another dream!!

Revenues for the sale of recorded music are falling, it is becoming increasingly necessary for independent rights holders (labels, publishers and artists) to seek out alternative revenue/income streams…

It is the area of Synch licensing that is presenting considerable opportunities, BUT, and it’s a massive BUT, income from Synch licensing is not the Holy Grail or is it?

Great quality music will be sought out by music supervisors and key decision-makers all the time.

There are key areas of Synch licensing, which include; Advertising, TV, Film, Computer games and the emerging market of corporate communications (corporate videos, Intranets etc).

Below is more information about Music Supervision and how artists and bands can gain great exposure and build strong long term relationships…

1) Be educated about the business side:

I know it sounds painful, but on the most basic level you have to understand (artists & bands) that there are two sides to a song (master and publishing), what elements are in a license, that samples from other songs always need to be licensed and cleared fully — 100%.

2) Know who owns your music:

Or at least who has the right to license it for film and TV.

If there are two or three writers, would a supervisor need to get permission from all three or is there a point person with the power to make those decisions on behalf of the group?

Who owns the master recording of a song (s) — the producer, the artist or the label?

Generally, if you have a label, the label owns it, basically just make sure you have these conversations with your team, artist or band fully covered.

3) Make smart connections:

If I were an independent artist I would not cold call a big studio pitching my music or would you?.

Studios and other big companies get so many calls and emails every day it’s way too easy to get lost, not to mention there are other political agendas and relationships at play as well.

I recommend first targeting representation by pitching companies who have a strong catalogue that your music would fit in well with, and more importantly — already have connections with all the people who are placing music.

There are big ones like Music Dealers, who have huge searchable databases, and more boutique companies like Position Music (they have a big production music library, but a much smaller artist representation wing).

How to get representation by one of these companies (and deciding which company is right for you).

4) Do your research:

If you do insist on cold calling a large company, make sure you know what projects they’re working on.

With this great invention called the Internet, you can find out almost everything about the production, these days.

Take a moment and think, “does my music really fit into anything they’re working on?” if the answer is yes, mention that.

If not, then be clear that you are aware it may not work right now, but you’d like to be considered for the future.

I don’t know any music supervisor who doesn’t appreciate when artists and bands show they’ve put in a little effort it goes a long way.

5) Always be polite and professional:

If you’ve never met or built any rapport with someone, don’t be their best friend right away, this does NOT work, I’m not saying you have to call me “Mr. …,” but use real words, complete sentences and proper punctuation.

I seriously get emails from producers, artist & bands being like,

“Hi. I want to put music into your soundtracks. Let me know what you’re working on. Thx.”

Come on now, lets put more effort in there are NO easy rides in the music business.

6) Always include music to download:

And try to avoid links that expire. I personally download pretty much everything I get sent, right away, and just store zip files in a folder until I can listen, but I’ve heard other supervisors express the “no links that expire” sentiment.

On the whole, the more information about a band and artist the better; a YouTube video, or an article including a stream is good.

SoundCloud is also a good tool, but it can be a pain to download all the tracks individually. I’m always on the hunt for better tools to upload and share music.

7) Have high-quality versions, instrumentals and lyrics for all of your tracks on the ready:

I think some people would go so far as to say having stems available is also important, but in my job we rarely need stems. High (or “broadcast quality files can be WAV of AIF and are necessary for the final mix.

8) Always include contact information embedded into your tracks: (or stuck onto your CD case for physical CDs, or both).

Often times I end up listening to a file months after it was sent to me, and can’t remember where I got it from.

If I can’t figure out where it came from, I don’t know who to reach out to should I want to license it, and since music searches generally have a quick turnaround, I may move on to another track.

9) Be quick about it:

As I said above, music searches can require a quick turnaround.

In fact, most of them do. If you have a label, publisher, administrator or anyone responsible for pitching your music it’s their job to act quickly, but if you don’t and you get a call about a potential opportunity — move fast!

Sometimes even waiting five, four hours before responding can cost you a placement.

10) Patience is a virtue:

Sometimes I get asked to give my feedback or opinions on music I’m sent, and I honestly don’t know what to say.

From where I sit, I only really feel qualified to comment on whether the song or artist is a fit for any of the projects I have a hand in at that moment, not how good or bad they are.

That’s what bloggers are for…

I tell people on the phone all the time, “if you don’t hear from us, it doesn’t mean that we don’t like your music or it’s bad — we just don’t have the right project for it right now.”

In my experience, pitching for film and television is like trying to hit a moving target. I do not envy (and highly respect) anyone who does it.

As they say, “success is when opportunity meets preparedness.”

Hopefully, has given you a good insight into the music supervision world. Best of luck with your continued creative endeavours.

Written by: Peter Moore



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Peter Moore

Peter has lived in New York, Los Angeles and London working in the music, film and TV industries for over three decades helping creators realize their vision.